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Eastern Mountain Sports Parent Confirms It’s Exploring Strategic Options

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Eastern Mountain Sports

It’s hard out there for a sporting goods chain.

Vestis Retail Group, which is owned by affiliates of Versa Capital Management and comprises Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), Bob’s Stores (Bob’s) and Sport Chalet, confirmed Tuesday that it is weighing strategic options. However, the firm declined to confirm a Bloomberg report that claimed it was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection.

“Vestis continually looks for opportunities to position its stores for long-term growth and success and, as such, is evaluating a number of strategies to strengthen the business,” the company said in a statement issued to Sports One Source. “We will share additional updates as and when decisions are made. Meanwhile, we continue to focus on executing our long-term strategic plan, and all our stores—Eastern Mountain Sports, Bob’s Stores and Sport Chalet—continue to operate as usual, offering our customers the top outdoor, apparel and footwear fashions from their favorite brands.”

Bloomberg sent the rumor mill into overdrive Monday when it published a report that said the company could file for Chapter 11 as early as next week, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The news followed Sports Authority’s recent bankruptcy filing and the announcement of 140 store closures. The sporting goods retailer is $643 million in debt. Likewise, surfwear seller Quiksilver filed for Chapter 11 last September, listing more than $100 million in assets against more than $500 million in liabilities. The company, which also owns Roxy and DC Shoes, emerged from the proceedings in February with a smaller store base and a new owner.

When Vestis added West Coast chain Sport Chalet to its portfolio in June 2014, it said that combining it with East Coast-based stores EMS and Bob’s would create one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the U.S., with more than 150 stores and $800 million in total sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013.

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